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  • Early Partial Release of sample code.

    I've been coaching FTC since it officially began, and even though I've used LabVIEW all along, there have been enough version and template changes along the way to know that the sooner I can start learning the new system, the better I'll be able to teach it.

    Now that the word is out about the new system, I'd like to encourage FIRST to make some early code releases available so that guys like me can get a head-start on the new system.

    I'm a veteran programmer of 30 years, and although I've done extensive embedded C, C++ coding, I still find the concept of learning Android Studio and Java daunting. Not so much the language as the environment and whole mobile app concept.

    I've installed Android Studio, ordered several books about using it, but all I have to work with is a clean slate. All programmers know the best way to learn is to do, but I have no idea where to start.
    What's relevant and what's not? I don't know.
    I'd rather not start down several unrelated paths. I really need a starter robot project... even a really bad one

    So, even though the full FTC package is probably not finalized, some early project examples would go a long way towards getting mentors like me over our anxiety.

    Kinda like a "Hello World" FTC robot project. Perhaps in a "Enter at your own rick" repository

    I'd like to think that veterans like me could be an educational resource in our States for the new platform, but only if we can get up to speed in advance of the "wait till the last minute" group

    Thanks for the consideration.

    Phil.
    Very excited, but a little pensive.

  • #2
    I wouldn't hold my breath expecting to see much more from Manchester before they get through World Championships in St Louis next month. I'm sure that Tom and his crew would love to concentrate on this technology rollout full time, but they need to take care of this years' teams first . . .

    Just my opinion, and YMMV!
    Jim Bates
    Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
    FLL Teams 71 & 13365
    FTC Team 9765

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    • #3
      I can't help but note, the teams at Worlds will see more of it and sooner than the rest of us.

      I can't help but feel this entire roll-out could have been handled differently and more equitably. For example, I --- and I suspect along with other public schools --- can't even buy anything this year until September because deadlines for our vendor approval and "activities" purchasing departments have expired for this academic year. We'll be late to the party by several months.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Philbot View Post
        I've been coaching FTC since it officially began, and even though I've used LabVIEW all along, there have been enough version and template changes along the way to know that the sooner I can start learning the new system, the better I'll be able to teach it.

        Now that the word is out about the new system, I'd like to encourage FIRST to make some early code releases available so that guys like me can get a head-start on the new system.

        I'm a veteran programmer of 30 years, and although I've done extensive embedded C, C++ coding, I still find the concept of learning Android Studio and Java daunting. Not so much the language as the environment and whole mobile app concept.

        I've installed Android Studio, ordered several books about using it, but all I have to work with is a clean slate. All programmers know the best way to learn is to do, but I have no idea where to start.
        What's relevant and what's not? I don't know.
        I'd rather not start down several unrelated paths. I really need a starter robot project... even a really bad one

        So, even though the full FTC package is probably not finalized, some early project examples would go a long way towards getting mentors like me over our anxiety.

        Kinda like a "Hello World" FTC robot project. Perhaps in a "Enter at your own rick" repository

        I'd like to think that veterans like me could be an educational resource in our States for the new platform, but only if we can get up to speed in advance of the "wait till the last minute" group

        Thanks for the consideration.

        Phil.
        Very excited, but a little pensive.

        You'll learn plenty just by learning how to do the basics of Android. Write an app, deploy it to your device. Android Studio uses Gradle for build scripting. I'm getting familiar with that as I expect I'll be helping a lot of kids fix their builds... You'll want a physical device to test your app. Android Studio has an emulator but even on my laptop with 16GB of RAM and a CPU that supports ARM virtualization I found the emulator unusable.

        Like JimInNJ, I bet we'll see a release of the SDK next month after the World Championship is over.

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        • #5
          +1 Philbot. I'm in the same situation as you, and while I'm very excited for this shift, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed since I'll need to help educate the programmers in my team. And I find it hard help them while I'm learning at the same time.

          Tom mentioned in another thread that some teams migrated their code from RobotC to Java in a few hours, and once exposed to the Java templates, migration is straightforward. I'm encouraged by this but can only determine if that holds true for our team once it is released and we have hardware in hand.
          FTC Team 8681 - A Few Loose Screws: Mentor (2014- )

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          • #6
            If you now C++ (or any C-syntax type language) Java is going to be way easier to learn, every language you pick up the faster it gets (except Assembly-I still don't understand it.) For people looking a something to practice (I cannot be sure it is outdated and includes everything), I found this article, http://www.smartlab.at/articles/andr...ot-controller/, which is based on NXTs and Android. A major milestone for me personally would be the difference in string between C++ and Java. Something that will help you in this transition, I found: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1...-in-c-and-java.

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            • #7
              Thanks, but it's not *just* the language. It's learning Android Studio, app development, and the new APIs.

              I was a programmer for 15 years (mostly C, a little C++, and a couple years of Java when 1.0.2 was all the rage) and now manage multiple software engineering teams. I tried Android Studio about 9 months ago for the fun of it, and while the interface is pretty slick, it is VERY intimidating to a 13 year old with less than a year of programming experience. RobotC was far more straight forward.

              I'm hoping the templates and *clear* tutorial that First provides will ease the transition.
              FTC Team 8681 - A Few Loose Screws: Mentor (2014- )

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              • #8
                I will admit that the first time you see that Gradle layout of things, you could get scared. With how FIRST is doing things I think that all you will have to worry about would be is something along the lines of <package name>\app\src\main\java\<team package name>\*your files*.java. Then you could consider everything else to be support files, that don't need to really worry about. They seem to be giving us the app framework, it is up to us to write the Java to make the robot function, not us doing both. Anyway, if you learn Java you come to the IDE with what it natively does, helps you write code, then learning the Android platform becomes far faster (and a knowledge of XML helps with that, too!) I will also have to migrate multiple teams and maybe a few rookie teams to the new platform.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ctaranto View Post
                  Tom mentioned in another thread that some teams migrated their code from RobotC to Java in a few hours, and once exposed to the Java templates, migration is straightforward.
                  Honestly, based on the simplicity of some robots, I would have hoped an "easy" migration to be done in a few minutes....
                  Many robots have no auto.... they are just RC cars. So it's just some joystick mapping with maybe a Drive Forward auto.

                  So given that a "good" time example is a few hours, I'm back to worrying again Not really, but these sort of anecdotal comments are very generic and not particularly reassuring.

                  Phil.

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                  • #10
                    Phil, here's a video of a scrimmage using the new system. As you can see, the robots that are participating are pretty complicated, and not just basic frames on wheels.

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzEG...ature=youtu.be

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                    • #11
                      The drive system of our robot (tele-op) was pretty complicated and used various algorithms. Definitely portable to Java, but not a couple hour activity.
                      FTC Team 8681 - A Few Loose Screws: Mentor (2014- )

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ctaranto View Post
                        The drive system of our robot (tele-op) was pretty complicated and used various algorithms. Definitely portable to Java, but not a couple hour activity.
                        Porting it the first time around might be somewhat difficult, but having Gradle support (as well as a more powerful and modular programming language) will allow modular and well-written libraries of game algorithms to persist across years, teams, and robots.
                        FTC6460 mentor (software+computer vision+electronics), FPGA enthusiast. In favor of allowing custom electronics on FTC bots.
                        Co-founder of ##ftc live chat for FTC programming--currently you may need to join and wait some time for help--volunteer basis only.

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                        • #13
                          Oh, I entirely agree that Java is a great language to move towards - no complaints about that. I just have a feeling (and unfortunately, it's usually right) that the upcoming season will feel more like another 1st year than a 2nd year. I'm fine with it for the "futureability" of FTC.
                          FTC Team 8681 - A Few Loose Screws: Mentor (2014- )

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ctaranto View Post
                            I just have a feeling (and unfortunately, it's usually right) that the upcoming season will feel more like another 1st year than a 2nd year. I'm fine with it for the "futureability" of FTC.
                            Of course it will be. We are essentially redoing everything that has been established for eight years! However, I think this change is beneficial and we will roll right through it with the proper instruction

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                            • #15
                              Hi Folks,

                              I agree - there will be a new learning curve with the Android platform, and there may be some bumps along the way in spite of our best efforts to mitigate the technical risks and to smooth the transition.. However, in the long run I think the new platform will be a fun platform and offer a lot to the mentors, teams and volunteers who participate in the program. There are a lot of neat things that you can do with the Snapdragon systems - they are very powerful yet also power efficient and compact.

                              Tom

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